The Slow Death of a Crag

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karodrinker

Trad climber
San Jose, CA
Topic Author's Original Post - Sep 17, 2012 - 02:56pm PT
Bolts at Castle Rock State Park, in California

A beautiful, gymnastic climbing area exists on the ridge top above the bucolic wealth hamlet of Saratoga Ca. Sandstone monoliths protrude from the dirt, with cliff bands and waterfalls providing challenges from 5 to over 100 feet. The climbing history is long and important, many of Yosemite's climbing heroes originally learned their climbing craft at Castle Rock.

There are bolted sport climbs at Castle Rock, but hardly anyone does them. This is a shame, as there are many high quality routes on most of the formations. I see mostly bouldering and top roping practiced there now. Frankly, the bolts are mostly rusty and appear unreliable. Even the top rope anchor bolts are sometimes scary, compared to the bolts I see climbing at most other California climbing areas. Even the Pinnacles, an area renowned for it's unreliability, has in general, a much better bolt quality. What makes Castle Rock so scary, is that NO bolt replacement is allowed at the park. All of the bolting in the park was done decades ago before there was an all around closure regarding bolts. It is still legal to use the bolts, just illegal to make sure they are safe.

Why the bolting closure was initiated in the first place is a topic of debate, but the long term result is the eventual rusting, decay and subsequent failure of the bolts in place. There will be injuries and death from the eventual failure of bolts at Castle Rock if climbers are not allowed to at least replace decaying anchors.

Is the State Park service deliberately trying to slowly force roped climbing to die at Castle Rock State Park, and are they willing to allow climbers to die in the process? Is it not time for this to be remedied?

Best regards,
Kalen Glenn
looking sketchy there...

Social climber
Latitute 33
Sep 17, 2012 - 03:09pm PT
If the Park refuses to allow replacement of existing anchors (but allows them to remain in place), and there is an accident resulting from the failure of these bolts, under well-established California statutory and case law, the Park can (and should) be held liable.

Unfortunately, that leaves two alternatives for the Park:

1. Remove all bolts; or

2. Permit replacement by the climbing community of existing anchors.



Jebus H Bomz

climber
Reno, Nuh VAAAA duh
Sep 17, 2012 - 03:17pm PT
There really are some nice bolted lines there, so it is a shame.

The either or option Randy presented came to mind as well.

If you force the issue, maybe the bolts get yanked more quickly. Or, if negotiations are irretrievable, climbers start taking out the manky bolts ad lib. But knowing when that point has been reached is murky at best.

I wouldn't say the crag "dies", it will just change to natural and gear anchors, mostly top roping, perhaps with the development of a headpoint ethic or somesuch for formerly bolt-protected leads. There are a few decent cracks there to lead as well.
crasic

climber
Sep 17, 2012 - 03:18pm PT
The bolts at the waterfall seemed relatively new... or are you talking about castle rock proper?
karodrinker

Trad climber
San Jose, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 17, 2012 - 03:21pm PT
Talking all around, at the many rocks in the park. There are still usable bolts, but they will not remain good forever. Due to the soft nature of the rock and it's proximity to the coast, Glue in Titanium bolts are the best option, an option that wasn't in use decades ago.
Splater

climber
Grey Matter
Sep 17, 2012 - 03:25pm PT
You might also check with some of the people at these links:

http://bayareaclimbers.com/famorris2.html

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=534356&tn=300

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=1792063&tn=40

http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Rock-Climbers-May-Soon-Face-New-Restrictions-2860021.php
Jebus H Bomz

climber
Reno, Nuh VAAAA duh
Sep 17, 2012 - 03:26pm PT
If conditions were as saline as the coast, you'd probably have had many anchor failures already, I'm guessing.

It seems the climbing community there should press the issue as it will all too soon become a matter of safety. Whether you strip 'em or clip 'em needs to be addressed.
crasic

climber
Sep 17, 2012 - 03:28pm PT
I see, it is a shame.

But on the other hand, how will rangers know if you pull and replace quietly? Or do you have to re-drill the rock in sandstone? I haven't done any drilling or bolt replacement so sorry if I sound ignorant,

In any case, my personal view on rules is that they exist to be stretched as far as possible.
Jebus H Bomz

climber
Reno, Nuh VAAAA duh
Sep 17, 2012 - 03:29pm PT
Probably the perceived new-ness of hardware shouldn't be discussed here in public, I'm guessing.
karodrinker

Trad climber
San Jose, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 17, 2012 - 03:31pm PT
It should be public, it's a potential hazard.
crasic

climber
Sep 17, 2012 - 03:32pm PT
I think he's hinting at covert rebolting

What do the rules actually say?

If I pull a bolt to inspect it and replace it without a new hole is that against the rules? What if I accidentally forget which pocket I put the old bolt and I coincidentally have a pocket full of new bolts?
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
Sep 17, 2012 - 05:34pm PT
hey there say, karodrinker... say, is that the same place where my brother (chappy, for those that may not know) and brian, and ???jack menendez???? (maybe) USED to go to and climb at??

i remember hearing about that place...
think folks really DID enjoy it sooooo long back...

thanks for sharing...
:)
Jebus H Bomz

climber
Reno, Nuh VAAAA duh
Sep 17, 2012 - 05:38pm PT
Right on, Crasic. You read me like a bible ;).
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Sep 17, 2012 - 05:51pm PT
In some ways it's the future of obscure sport climbs - the bolts rust away, and nobody does the climbs, so it doesn't matter.
If you are serious about the bolts being hazardous, one solution is to remove them and patch the holes....
pc

climber
Sep 17, 2012 - 08:15pm PT
+1 for Clint.

Maybe for a different reason though...All but one of the bolts at Castle Rock always gave me the shivers. The big barrel "bolt/top rope anchor" on top of the main Castle Rock being the one I trusted.

I clipped a few of the bolted lead climbs but always considered them "do not fall"/"free solos" type ordeals.

Is it the death of the crag if the bolted climbs go away? Naw. The place would thrive as a bouldering only spot.

$.02,
pc
crasic

climber
Sep 17, 2012 - 08:22pm PT
There are plenty of popular sport and mixed sport/trad climbs at the waterfall. In the 5.9 to high 5.11 range.

Plenty of people roping up for them, lots of topropes, but the bolts are solid in most places, for the time being...
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Sep 17, 2012 - 10:27pm PT
Death of a crag...any routes by Willy Loman?
Tfish

Trad climber
La Crescenta, CA
Sep 17, 2012 - 10:33pm PT
Same kinda thing at point dume. Rusty bolts at a CA state park.
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
Sep 18, 2012 - 03:51pm PT
If the Park refuses to allow replacement of existing anchors (but allows them to remain in place), and there is an accident resulting from the failure of these bolts, under well-established California statutory and case law, the Park can (and should) be held liable.

Unfortunately, that leaves two alternatives for the Park:

1. Remove all bolts; or

2. Permit replacement by the climbing community of existing anchors.

Sad to say, they have one other option --(3) ban climbing. If the result of the current condition is liability for the state, the standard bureaucratic answer is option (3).

John
Bruce Morris

Social climber
Belmont, California
Oct 22, 2012 - 04:35pm PT
FYI: The new upgraded edition of Jim Thornburg's Bay Area Rock (2012) now includes many, many pictures of the bolted sport routes located at Castle Rock State Park:

http://www.jimthornburg.com/bay-area-rock.html

The new edition also contains first ascent information for the routes in the Underworld, Western Addition, Waterfall and Indian Rock areas.

The quality of Jim's pictures is bound to lead to a resurgence of leading activity at Castle Rock and further pressure on State Parks to allow bolt replacement and upgrades to avoid the liability issues cited above.

Seeing is believing. Many of the routes depicted look very good indeed. Funny how the passage of time and facts eliminate old prejudices.
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